Bulletin #28 No Child Left Behind Update                        3/8/2004

 

Did you know? With regard to No Child Left Behind legislation, there are about fourteen state legislatures that are considering requesting waivers, exemptions or additional federal money, while some are considering prohibiting the use of state or local money to comply with the mandates, and still others are seeking to opt out of the mandate entirely.

 

It has only been two years since the "No Child Left Behind" legislation was passed by congress. Even though states have the choice to participate in this federal legislation, none have yet outright rejected it entirely because the federal money tied to it is so compelling. It would mean relinquishing federal subsidies, which account for about 11 percent of total expenditures on education. Everyone is grumbling and complaining about the mandates, and lack of federal money to enact mandates, and the unfairness of the law. As many as half the schools in some states have failed to meet NCLB's complicated definition of "adequate yearly progress" in student test scores, which have not only put schools on failing lists (some of which were previously blue ribbon schools), but have also triggered a range of costly remedial measures and sanctions to be enacted or considered.

 

The legislatures of at least 14 states, from Virginia to Washington, have adopted resolutions critical of the law or requested waivers from the Education Department. What is interesting is that some of these states have Republican majorities in their legislatures, so this is seen as a rebuke to the Bush administration who signed it into law. The No Child Left Behind Act has created some strange unions. We are seeing Republicans who resent what they see as federal intrusion into a state area of responsibility, and liberals along with teachers unions who object to standardized tests and tougher teacher qualifications, united in their opposition to this. Politicians from both parties are united in their opinions regarding unfunded mandates.

 

Arizona: Rep. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, is sponsoring House Bill 2696, which would prevent the state Department of Education and school districts from following No Child Left Behind. Arizona is set to receive about $327 million this year for No Child Left Behind, with total federal money at $716 million. Opposition to No Child Left Behind comes from Arizona Republicans who disagree with this "top-down" federal mandate which they see as encroachment on states’ rights. Johnson said that the federal government is stepping too far into areas historically left to the states and local districts. She also fears an expansion of the federal role in education. "We’re going to end up with federal curriculum and federal teacher certification," Johnson said. Lawmakers are also citing that the costs of carrying out the requirements far exceed the amount of education money that Arizona gets from the federal government.

 

Connecticut: The legislature in Connecticut issued a Senate Joint Resolution (SJR4) on February 27th. It says: Connecticut General Assembly expresses its solidarity with other states seeking to challenge this unwarranted federal mandate and calls upon the President and Congress of the United States to amend the No Child Left Behind Act, P.L. 107-110 to provide for a mechanism that will require the granting of waivers from said act to Connecticut and other states that (1) have implemented effective, high standards and accountability measures, (2) consistently achieve within the top tenth percentile of all states for student performance and participation in national assessments, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Scholastic Achievement Test, (3) annually profile school districts and schools for accountability and student achievement pursuant to demographic indices including subcategories of student performance, including a subcategory based on a high percentage of students eligible for free or reduced price lunches, and (4) direct additional resources for school readiness and reading programs and school construction projects to school districts with a high concentration of students performing below the level of proficiency.

 

Hawaii: The legislature voted for a non-binding resolution to opt out of NCLB unless the law is fully funded. The legislature cited reasons that the cost of implementing the NCLB mandates would cost Hawaii more money than it would be receiving. Hawaii House Resolution 117 http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2003/bills/hr117_.htm and House Concurrent Resolution 146 http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2003/bills/hcr146_.htm state that the "shortfall [in federal funding] will hinder the State's ability to continue carrying out the goal of the Act." These two resolutions are based on a State Department of Education study that finds that the Department will need an additional $176.3 million in fiscal year 2003-2004 and $260 million in fiscal year 2004-2005 in order to carry out the purposes of the law, with money going to such things as testing, data collection and tutoring. http://starbulletin.com/2003/05/29/news/story6.html

 

Idaho: The Idaho Legislature approved a resolution (SJM108) praising the law's objective of raising student achievement, but urging major changes to NCLB. You can find the legislation in the Idaho Legislature’s web page http://www3.state.id.us/

 

 

Indiana: Indiana education officials are joining with the nation's governors and state policy-makers in calling for an overhaul of President Bush's No Child Left Behind act. Statewide associations representing superintendents, principals, teachers, school boards and urban districts have complained that the federal law is too rigid and imposes impractical goals. Indiana Star State joins protest of education law March 5, 2004 •• 695 words •• ID: ind82734512

 

Maine: Similar to the legislation that was passed in Vermont, LD1716/SP648 was voted on in December of 2003. This resolve prohibits the Department of Education from using state funds to implement the policies of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The resolve also requires the Department of Education to investigate the costs and benefits of not participating in the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The resolve also requires the department to submit its findings to the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs by March 15, 2004. You can view the legislation by searching http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/  

 

Minnesota: The Senate Education Committee gave preliminary approval on Feb. 18 to a bill which will have the state of Minnesota opt out of NCLB. The bill's (SF1853) sponsor, Republican Senator Michele Backmann, told the Pioneer Press, "the message this sends is that the people of Minnesota don't want the federal government making decisions about what goes on in the local classrooms." The Republican Caucus issued this press release: http://www.senate.mn/caucus/rep/membernews/2003/dist52/20030218_NCLB_Opt_Out_Passes_Ed_Comm.htm

and you can read the bill at http://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/cgi-bin/getbill.pl?number=SF1853&session=ls83&version=latest&session_number=0&session_year=2004

 

New Mexico: In Nov 2003, Montana Governor Judy Martz (R) and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) have written Secretary of Education Rod Paige urging changes in the federal No Child Left Behind law to make its implementation more rational in rural areas.

 

Oklahoma: The Oklahoma legislature is so unhappy with NCLB that they drafted a resolution  (HCR1052) calling on Congress to overhaul it http://www2.lsb.state.ok.us/2003-04bills/hb/hcr1052_int.rtf They are now saying that Congress should repeal the law entirely because it lacks constitutional authority over education and has not provided financing for the law's mandates.

 

Utah: In a rebuke to the Bush administration, the Utah House voted to prohibit the state's education authorities from using any local money to comply with No Child Left Behind (HB43). The vote, by a Republican-dominated chamber, came after weeks of criticism by lawmakers who argued that the federal education measure impinges on the state's right to set its own education agenda and that the cost of compliance with the law's mandates would be too high for the state to afford. Utah receives about $103-$106 million in federal funding with NCLB, and their legislature has voted not to spend another cent in state money to comply with the NCLB mandates. Utah is waiting to see if the NCLB mandates will cost more to implement than what the federal funding will provide for the state. Information about this was written up in the New York Times; Please see their article, Utah House Rebukes Bush With Its Vote on School Law, By SAM DILLON 02/11/2004 in the NYT archives.

The bill can be read at http://www.le.state.ut.us/~2004/bills/hbillint/hb0043.pdf

 

Vermont: Vermont enacted a resolution (JRH 25) which expresses the state's concern with NCLB. It prohibits state officials from spending any of Vermont's own money to comply with the terms of the federal law. The sentiment was that No Child Left Behind law was forcing the state to divert money from several of their neediest public schools to support student transfers and supplemental tutoring. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2004/acts/actr207.htm There is also a bill (H-164) which prohibits participation in the federal legislation. It can be viewed at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/legdoc.cfm?URL=/docs/2004/bills/intro/H-164.HTM

 

Virginia: In January 2004, the Republican controlled Virginia House of Delegates, passed a resolution (HJ 192) by a vote of 98 to 1, calling on Congress to exempt Virginia and other states from the law's mandates. The House of Delegates complained that NCLB complicates Virginia's own efforts to raise education standards by containing the "most sweeping intrusions into state and local control of education in the history of the United States." Another resolution (HJ 87) offered at the same time, directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the fiscal implications of the state’s compliance with NCLB. House Bill 337 calls for Virginia to withdraw from participation in NCLB effective July 1, 2005. Information and text

about this bill can be seen at http://www.edpolicy.org/legislation/bills/2004/vahj192.htm

 

Wisconsin: SR 19 requests that Congress fully fund NCLB http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2003/data/SR-19.pdf

 

Wyoming: In February 2004, the Wyoming House Committee on Education, put forth a bill, House Bill 0127, which requires Wyoming to opt out of the Federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Read the full text of the bill at http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2004/introduced/hb0127.pdf Wyoming is still considering this bill but by introducing it the legislature has joined the growing number of states in sending the Federal Government the message that NCLB is grossly under-funded and far too intrusive.

 

Teachers groups in various states are also meeting and working to have provisions of NCLB legislation changed and they are meeting with and lobbying their legislators. There is also an online petition regarding this federal legislation. There are more than a thousand signatures on an "Open Letter to State and Federal Legislators." If you'd care to see what people are signing please see : http://www.PetitionOnline.com/gmd4285/petition.html

 

Additional articles on this topic are :

Lack of funding, and local control spark mini-revolt The Detroit News, Michigan, http://www.detnews.com/2004/specialreport/0402/29/a08-77568.htm

 

More States Are Fighting 'No Child Left Behind' Law, Complex Provisions, Funding Gaps In Bush Education Initiative Cited, can be found in the archives of the Washington Post for Feb. 18, 2004.

 

President's Initiative to Shake Up Education Is Facing Protests: New York Times, March 8, 2004

An article in Education Week also discusses this issue http://www.edweek.com/context/topics/issuespage.cfm?id=59

 

National School Boards Association: http://www.nsba.org/site/doc_sbn_issue.asp?TRACKID=&VID=55&CID=682&DID=33124

 

National Conference on State Legislatures: They cite 14 states which are pursuing some form of action: http://www.ncsl.org/statefed/nclblegal.htm

 

The US Department of Education's official NCLB site http://www.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml

 

NCLB says that homeschoolers are "exempt" from the NCLB regulations. The looming problem still remains that the term "homeschool" has not been defined anywhere in federal statute. Sooner or later it must be defined. When it is defined, who will be defining it? Congress? The Courts? Homeschoolers who receive federal funding cannot be exempt unless specified succinctly. If autonomous homeschoolers are exempt from this legislation, does that mean they are not exempt from other federal legislation? Those questions are yet to be answered. It is much better to leave out anything about homeschooling from federal legislation. Instead, why not make sure that whatever federal legislation is adopted specifically applies only to public schools?

 

The homeschool community needs to be careful as marketers and program promoters label their alternative education programs as homeschooling because homeschoolers may be carried along under the mandates of NCLB. The reason being that alternative education, charter schools and "public school at home" ARE under the mandates of public education because they accept public funding. It is the very reason why we have to continually make sure that autonomous homeschoolers, those described by the We Stand For Homeschooling Petition, are not confused with what other people choose to call homeschooling.

 

Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense. –

 www.nheld.com or email : info@nheld.com

Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD – imjfaron@sbcglobal.net